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Pakistan frees Norwegian journalist detained last week

Zaman’s release came after the International Press Institute, based in Vienna, Austria, asked Pakistan to drop charges against him

GUJRAT, Pakistan: A Norwegian journalist mistakenly arrested last week during clashes in Pakistan between police and supporters of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been freed on bail, police said on Tuesday.

During the protests in the city of Gujarat last Friday, police officers assumed Kadafi Zaman, a journalist of Pakistani origin, was one of the protesters from Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Party.

Zaman, who was detained along with other demonstrators, was freed on Monday, said officer Mohammad Ashraf. His relatives from Gujarat posted the bail.

Zaman, who works for the Norwegian broadcasting company TV 2, said he was covering the rally of Sharif’s supporters when the police beat him.

“Police beat me … despite my showing them my press card, he told The Associated Press.

The police beat the protesters with batons and fired tear gas, he said, adding that he has bruises on his back, arms and neck.

Under Pakistani law, Zaman has to attend a court hearing over the incident. He said he would leave Pakistan after covering the elections later this month but that he would return for the hearing.

Zaman’s release came after the International Press Institute, based in Vienna, Austria, asked Pakistan to drop charges against him.

In a letter to Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk, the media organisation’s deputy director Scott Griffen said allegations against Zaman were false and should be dropped.

“Mr. Zaman was doing his job as a journalist covering the demonstration and was not involved in any of the violent activities that took place during the demonstration that was held in the city of Gujrat in Punjab province,” Griffen said.

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